May 31, 2010

Jim's Birthday Cake for Marie

OK, I didn't really go the Funfetti route; but I was a little bit tempted when I saw this gag present that Marie's brother Doug sent her.  Here's the real one:
When Marie first broached the idea of having me do a cake for her birthday and being guest blogger, I was taken aback and tried to talk her out of it - "It will look and taste like crap," I said (actually, I think I used a less polite word).  I've never baked a cake; I don't like to cook; and I'm a lousy cook.  There was no budging her, of course; so I went through the blogs from before the start of the Heavenly Cake Bakers to find a possible candidate for a person of my lack of skills and experience.

I found the ideal cake - the Golden Lemon Almond Cake that she blogged about on June 21, 2009.  This cake is on the quick and easy list, and more important, Marie had a couple of screw-ups when making it and received a lot of advice and tips about it.  The bar was not as low as I wanted, but it was as low as it was going to get.  Marie offered to help, but I decided I would put Rose's instructions to the acid test and do the whole thing on my own.

I gathered everything I'd need, went over the instructions for the fourth or fifth time, and added some stuff.

I took something away, too.

I love the scale.  I've watched Marie use it hundreds of times since she started the Breadbasketcase blog but never really appreciated it until now.  That's why there are no measuring cups in the picture (though that's not what I took away).  The precision that's possible with the scale appeals to my German background, accounting training, and bureaucratic soul (if that's not too blatant an oxymoron).  I weighed almost everything.

The nuts.
The eggs - I was so excited when the three eggs totaled exactly the 150 grams that were called for, that I rushed out to tell Marie (she hasn't yet had them come out at the exact weight straight from the shell).  With this kind of luck, I began to think that I just might pull off this cake.

One of Marie's screw-ups was having some cake damage when unmolding it - so I looked at the tips in the blog entry and sprayed half a can of Baker's Joy inside the pan and used a brush to get into all the nooks and crannys.
I avoided that mistake, but I made one of my own in grating the lemon zest - note how white the lemon is.
Marie came through the kitchen just then and asked me why I didn't use the micro-plane and why did I use so much of the white.  It seems you're only supposed to use the yellow because the white is bitter.  "OK," I said, "how do you happen to know that?" (I was about to be indignant about not being informed in the instructions)  "Everyone knows that."  "Maybe they do now, but they didn't five minutes ago."  Then, she patiently showed me the section in the back of the book in which a great deal of interesting information about lemon zest is laid out. 

I also avoided Marie's screw-up about forgetting to add the nuts at the right time, but then I screwed up by forgetting to sift the flour into the mixing bowl - at least everything was there.

Dry ingredients at low speed

Butter and sour cream added

And egg mixture gradually added and everything whipped smooth.

So far, so good.

It's a little rounded on the top (bottom actually), but I can live with it.

Slather some lemon syrup on the bottom-to-be [you can tell this is a staged picture because I'm not left-handed and needed my right hand to take it]

Et, voilà!

I even got the undissolved sugar to sparkle like it's supposed to.

Marie supplied the rose in remembrance of how she presented the cake last year. 

So, I failed to prove that Rose's instructions aren't foolproof.  I had a good time doing it (except for scrapping my knuckle on the grater), and Marie seemed to enjoy it.  And it wasn't bitter either.

Thank you, Rose.

Oh, and how did it taste?


Marie: "Very moist and tender."

Karen: "Lively lemony flavor."

Jim: "Well, it could have been worse."


gartblue said...

jim dear,

wonderful wonderful wonderful gift for marie. she looked happy alright.

now let me find MrGart and get him to bake me my Happy Sunday cake this weekend.


"If Jim can, every man can too."

Do you think mine would buy this ?

evil cake lady said...

Excellent post, Jim! A fun read with delicious results.

Congratulations on your very first baked cake; you perform very well under pressure! Marie looks pleased as punch with her birthday cake. With such great results your first time out, you should set up your own blog and join us! Go Jim, go!

faithy said...

Great post Jim!! It was so fun to read your post! I think your cake looks great for someone who bakes for the first time and who doesn't even like to do it to begin with! I laughed when you said precision appeals to! i know where that goes..i weigh everything too..and i even look for the lower meniscus when measuring liquid! hahaha..can't forget my years of chemistry lessons! lol!

Marie must be elated! She looked so happy! :)

Happy Birthday Marie!! :)

Melinda said...

I think the cake turned out beautiful! I love all the neatly displayed and arranged measuring spoons. So artistic and OCD!
My husband has never made me a cake. Ever! He would struggle with the cake mix. I think you are so lovely to do your first cake, so publicly, too.
I really like this cake and it was a perfect choice for a birthday cake. It is so moist and delicious.
You are a good natured soul, Jim. People say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but the best way to get lucky with your woman, is to cook/bake for her!
Cheers xx
Happy anniversary to you both!

Mendy said...


Welcome to the fold of male Heavenly Cake Baker's Jim. Well done and Happy Birthday Marie! :)

So Nu, why did you remove the baking strip?

doughadear said...

Great looking cake Jim! Bravo on your first cake. I wonder if I make my husband read this he'll make me a cake for my birthday.

Happy Birthday Marie!

Monica said...

Jim... it turn out perfect.. and I'm glad you enjoy it, great post too... maybe you can guest post more often and bake more often too...

And Marie.. Happy Belated birthday to you!

Rose said...

This posting is proof positive that the two of you really deserve each other! I hope this will be, at very least, an annual event! People don't usually do something well they don't like doing so this shows that loving Marie made the difference...or...could it be you just discovered the hidden baker?! Bravo Jim--you are a good sport!

NancyB said...

Yay for Jim's first cake! You are good sport for tackling something you don't enjoy as a present for Marie.

And it looks like it came out just fine. [g]

Vicki said...

The Funfetti cake box had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe! If I've made one Funfetti cake, I've made twenty.

The cake looks fantastic and I'm incredibly impressed with your weighing skills. And now lemon zesting!

Well done and Happy Birthday Marie!

Matthew said...

I laughed at the cake box and cake strip too! I'm with Rose, you two are peas in a pod. Great post and the cake is beautiful! Can't believe it is your first.

Alpha Baker Joan said...

Great, witty post, jim. Hope to hear from you more often. Who knows you might get hooked after this beautiful creation! Who knows, Marie may have other celebrations you will be asked to honor with one of your now- becoming famous cakes ; ) Valentine's, Anniversary, Easter, Mothers' Day, Xmas ---

Marie said...

It really was a delicious cake, and Jim is now so heady with his success that he promised to make it an annual event. We'll see if he remembers making that promise next year at this time.
Woody just called to congratulate Jim and to tell me that Jim's cake was better than the one I did. True, but did he really have to remind me?

Nicola said...

Happy Birthday Marie! I think that a husband made birthday cake would be quite a fab present. Because of course you already have all the jewels and riches from years past...

Seriously? That fat freaky blue eyed weird thing considers its Funfetti a premium cake mix? Lordy!

I loved your post Jim. I especially loved the "whats missing/added" photos. And your cake looks fantastic. Hopefully you don't wait another full year before you whip up something else...

Ahem, I note that you took the photos as well as baking the cake? Truly a complete birthday gift.


Jenn said...

Happy Birthday Marie! May you will always have such fabulous cakes on your birthday.

Jim - great job on the cake and great job on the write up (Marie, you got competition :)). Also I love all the pictures. You know what this means, don't you? That we, the audience will demand more cakes from you :).

Jim said...

Thanks for all your kind words, but if the cake was good, it was all Rose's doing. Without those clear instructions, I'd have been completely lost.

Gartblue - Absolutely - if I can do it, anyone can (unless they can't read, I guess).

Thanks, ECL, but one blogger and baker in this family is enough. I'll stick with the picture taking.

Faithy, precision in my case is a touch excessive (but not in all the weighing). Melinda got it right.

It is borderline OCD, Melinda; but I was having a little fun with it, too.

Thanks for the welcome, Mendy, but I think I'll be a fair weather (as in late May)member of the fold. I appreciate that you noticed my little joke.

Of course, he will, doughadear, what man can resist all these compliments?

Monica, thanks, but once a year will be enough - in fact, I really should quit altogether since I am ahead.

Thanks again, Rose. I don't know what horrible thing Marie could have done to deserve me, but I'm glad she did it.

Despite my classic Minnesotan comment on the panel, it actually tasted very good indeed, Nancy B. Thanks.

I'm glad you appreciated the Funfetti joke, Vicki. My guess is that if I tried to make the Funfetti cake, it would be a disaster without the detailed instructions I had with the Golden Lemon Almond cake.

Peas in a pod? More like succotash, Matthew, if one likes succotash. Thanks.

She got me with "Birthday cake," BSA - i don't think the others will work.

Marie, what promise?

I did take the photos, Nicola, but I also missed a couple of shots because of doing it that way. I think I'm more possessive of my picture taking than Marie is of her baking. But I also found that I was planning more of the shots and making time for them - when Marie is baking, I'm pretty much running after her and trying to get a clear shot. I'll have to request more "posed" shots from Marie in the future - I doubt she'd mind.

faithy said...

Hey Marie & Jim, i was looking at the photos and i saw your Organic Turbinado sugar which i just found selling at our local supermart - that one and only supermart! I was so happy that i found it and bought 2! But ever since i bought it, recipes we have been baking has not required the use of it yet...:S It was really expensive S$7.50+/- means abt US$5.50? I wonder much is it selling over there?

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

Happy Birthday to you Marie, and Congratulations to you Jim!! Your cake turned out perfectly - hope we'll get to see you as a guest blogger again sometime.


jini said...

well just wow! jim you came through and certainly have earned gold stars for baking marie's cake. looks like you did a super job and can live on that glory till next years b-day arrives! :)
happy anniversary to the two of you!

Katya said...

looks lovely. that's been one of my favorite heavenly cakes so far. Although, may I recommend the daisy cake as a similarly easy affair--and you can buy the curd! I am always amazed when people tell me that they've never ever made a cake in their life. There was the moment I stared open-mouthed at my boyfriend and asked 'were you never a little girl????'

Jim said...

Thanks, Jenn. If you stick around 5 years, you may see 5 cake postings from me. But I will keep doing the pictures.

Faithy, I don't expect to visit the supermarket until later in the week, but I did a web search and found a good deal on twelve 24 oz. packs (the kind and size we have)for US$39.46 ("regularly US$54.00")that includes free shipping (at least in the US - I don't know about overseas). That's US$3.29 per pack; regularly US$4.50 a pack, which I suspect is the usual retail price.

I'll "talk" to you ina year, ButterYum.

Thanks, Jini. Send the gold stars to Rose. I will take credit for being able to read. :-)

Thank you for the suggestion, Katya, and we have the pan already (although there is that coloring in part and I'm pretty clumsy). I would have liked to have seen the look on your boyfriend's face - or is it an ex-boyfriend now? :-(

Shirley said...

Awesome job! Who knows what other beautiful cakes you're capable of?

faithy said...

Thanks Jim!

Rozanne said...

Happy belated birthday Marie! I think Jim did a wonderful job. Wish I had someone to bake my b'day cake.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely birthday gift! Jim, you have started something now, Marie will be expecting a cake from you every birthday and the rest of us ladybakers will be expecting our menfolk to do the same!
The cake looks lovely and I wish Marie a belated happy birthday. Jeannette.

Cooking in Mexico said...

It was so interesting to read your account of this cake. I love the My Weigh scale -- I don't know how I would bake without it!
Happy Birthday, Marie!